It is a familiar scene for most Indian women. Distressed single and even some not-so-single guy friends moaning about how depressing it is to be a man on Tinder. Complaining how the ladies hold all the power and how we X-chromosome tyrants will never know the agony of putting ourselves out there for a stranger to flirt back, ignore or just randomly decide to ghost someone, mid-conversation.
They're not entirely wrong.
The US woke up to the potent power of the index finger in 2012. By all accounts, Tinder should have been a roaring success among Indians. After all, who is better accustomed to the idea of sex with strangers than we are? Oh, before you upholders of sanskaar come to lynch me, pray tell me what 'arranged marriages' in the country involved, for decades? So, India thought, 'we GOT this'. When you think about it, what's so different between Tinder and arranged marriage? Beneath all the sapiosexual, bibliophile, gypsy-wanderer mumbo jumbo, we're all just looking at each other's photos and wondering what they'd look like, naked.
Understandably, Indian men were excited.
They waited. And waited. But the ladies never showed. "Why aren't we drowning in an infinity pool of no-strings-attached sex?" they cried in distress.
Here's the answer, for any guy who has ever wondered: We're there, you bet your ass we're there. Lurking around, silently judging, almost swiping right, but then changing our minds at the last second.
Why such erratic behaviour, you ask? Good question. Sit, grab a cushion, let me explain. There are several reasons.
Reason #1: It's weird
All our life, we've been warned of the perils of being 'uss type ki ladki'. By men, by women, by magazine know-it-alls, by films, by television shows, by anything that could speak. Don't be that type -- that one that wears big smiles, gives friendly strangers the confidence to approach her at a bar. You have to have noticed the mild glares we throw out into the universe from time to time. Since our first instinct in a public space is to protect ourselves from creeps, we now feel safer discouraging everyone from entertaining even the ghost of the idea of walking up to us to strike a conversation. So while swiping left and right with glorious abandon seems like a great, liberated idea in theory, we are mostly treating you with great suspicion. Especially if you're a complete stranger on Tinder with not even a second degree connection. This is why it helps to even attempt to write an honest profile description.
There's a Kalinga war going on between our brains and our morals, every time we're confronted with the biggest existential crisis of a millenial's life: are we, or are we not, DTF?
Reason #2: We're confused about our feelings toward sex
Indian women are relentlessly asked to cling first to their virginity, and then their morals (often a set of presumptuous patriarchal ideas), like their life defended on them. So, there's a Kalinga war going on between our brains and our morals, every time we're confronted with the biggest existential crisis of a millenial's life: are we, or are we not, down to fuck? On one hand, every girl tells herself she deserves the best sex in the world and on the other, we're imagining our mother's horrified face if she was to find out what her daughter was up to. It takes a while before we can crystallise our thoughts into a simple, self-assured, one-syllable, yes or no answer. Until then, we keep dancing on the "Umm, maybe, I don't know, I don't have an agenda, I'd just like to see where things go, I'm just networking (!!!)". Till they can embrace a booty call for what it's worth, most women have to make a pit stop at the "I only have sex when I'm in a meaningful relationship" island.
Reason #3: It's not us, it's you
We all know the human scum who will go out with a woman, enjoy wild sex with her and then call her a "slut", "easy" or "horny bitch" while making disgusting jokes and cackling with guy friends. If you haven't done it yourself, you know a friend who has and you've probably laughed along, even if it makes you uncomfortable. So no, you don't get to say #Hotelmen in outrage. Until it's acceptable for men to boast about their sexual conquests while slut-shaming women who employ their sexual agency, women are going to keep being skittish about sex, no matter how much they want it.
Reason #4: We're scared
We go through life thinking we're one bad date away from being tomorrow's horrifying headline. We've seen friends being beaten up/ raped by their boyfriends and heard soul-destroying stories of kids being molested by members of their own family. We're aware, all the time, that even the people who we think we trust can turn on us at any moment. If you had to live life, constantly looking over your shoulder, how quickly would you trust a stranger? So no, we're not "paranoid" or "uptight", we're just really, really scared of going on a date and being found comatose, without clothes in a ditch somewhere, the next morning.
Reason #5: Some of us really do want a relationship
Deal with it. Yes, Tinder might be a really dumb platform for it. Yes, you're within your rights to roll your eyes and ridicule that choice. But it's a choice we made. And no number of "this is not shaadi.com" declarations is going to make a difference. Get over it, already.